Civil engineering in New Zealand: could you make the switch?

British ex-pat engineer Chris Perks, Transport Sector Director for environmental and engineering consultancy Tonkin + Taylor, discusses making the move from the UK to New Zealand and his work for the national highways agency.

Chris Perks: dream job a decade earlier than hoped
Chris Perks: dream job a decade earlier than hoped
  • Updated: 29 January, 2018
  • Author: Chris Perks, Transport Sector Director, Tonkin & Taylor

Ask me about moving Down Under and I’ll give it to you straight. You get a greater variety of work - unique, complex and landmark projects that grow your skills and experience.

Since arriving I have climbed the ladder at a formidable pace and attribute some of this to Kiwi culture. From being a Birmingham trained ICE Chartered Engineer I am now the Transport Sector Director for environmental and engineering consultancy, Tonkin + Taylor and responsible for approximately 30% of the company's annual revenue.

I still have to pinch myself - I've landed my dream job, a decade earlier than I had hoped and the pipeline of work here is strong and healthy.

Landslip in New Zealand
New Zealand is in the middle of the largest infrastructure boom in its history

An engineer’s role in NZ’s infrastructure boom

New Zealand is currently in the middle of the biggest infrastructure boom in history, buoyed by strong immigration and ongoing earthquake remediation. In the UK many of the motorways were already built by the time I started work as an engineer, so I normally worked on improvement schemes - often widening a small section of road, or designing a bigger bypass.

In New Zealand the starting point has been a blank map, allowing me to work with teams to draw every line, identify the corridors and identify what the best option is.

By determining New Zealand's infrastructure, engineers are playing a pivotal part in shaping the country and its future. The jobs are not without pressure, and the same goes for working on earthquake recovery programmes. When the 7.8 magnitude Kaikōura Earthquake struck at two minutes past midnight on 14 November 2016, a resulting series of very large landslides destroyed over 200km of the rail and road network, shutting down the main transport links between NZ's North and South Islands.

Engineers, scientists and planners continue to play pivotal roles in the recovery, from advising government to restoring facilities. The current spend on infrastructure in NZ is unprecedented and the Aussies are spending billions on transport too.

The AU$11bn Melbourne Metro is the biggest infrastructure project in the country. The twin rail tunnel under the Yarra River will be 9km long, so it might require one or two geotechnical engineers!

Outside of work there is great weather to be enjoyed at nearby beaches with blue skies and endless sunshine. Back the office I'm busy winning T+T's transportation projects, including Puhoi to Warkworth - an 18.5km 4 lane motorway extension north of Auckland.

Interested in working down under?

You're in luck! Following the success of their UK recruitment campaign in 2017, Tonkin + Taylor are once again encouraging engineers living in the UK to explore new job opportunities, enjoy work/life balance and create a new life in Australasia.

T+T are recruiting a number of roles in various locations across New Zealand and in Melbourne. These include civil and structural engineers, highway and transportation planners, water resource engineers, geotechnical engineers and landfill design engineers.

T+T will be in London at the 'Down Under' Expo on February 10 - 11 to chat to people about work, lifestyle and project opportunities. A team of senior engineers will be conducting face to face interviews from 12 – 16 February, job applicants have until 8 February to apply.

Can't make it to the expo? Head to the Tonkin + Taylor careers site and take a look at some of the vacancies T+T are hiring for now, including:

Tonkins+Taylor are a New Zealand based environmental and engineering consultancy with offices in New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia and the wider Asia Pacific region.

This is a sponsored case study provided by Tonkins+Taylor. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of ICE.
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